Literary Challenge #18 : The Academy Days
View Single Post
Join Date: Jul 2012
02-10-2013, 05:36 PM
"And that's how you disable the proximity sensor on Cardassian type nine munitions," said Admiral Wesley Cooper, straightening from the work bench, and looking out at the lecture hall. "Are there any questions?"
He saw a cadet in the front row slowly raise his hand.
"Admiral, is it true that the type nine often features an anti-tamper charge?" asked the handsome young man in the services division uniform of a senior cadet.
"That is an excellent question, Cadet," Cooper replied, walking around the front of the work bench. "But also something of a trick question. Can anyone here tell me why?"
Cooper waited, his eyes flicking from student to student, none willing to venture an opinion. "No one? Cadet Palmer?"
Three rows back, Senior Cadet Amanda Palmer sat skooched down in her chair, her knees folded so her boots rested on the back of the chair before her.
Amanda looked up from her PADD, her eyes sullenly glaring from beneath the fringe of her choppily cut bob.
Cooper raised an eyebrow, but his tone remained even.
"Cadet Wilby posed a double-edged question, can you answer it?"
Cooper sighed. Ever since returning from her Midshipman cruise about the
at the end of the previous semester, Amanda's attitude had progressively degenerated. Sarcasm was just the tip of the iceberg, there were reports of off-campus parties which were as debauched as those at the height of the Roman Empire, declining grades, and lecture attendances which were becoming less and less productive.
"And the answer is?" Cooper prompted, his eyes momentarily flicking away.
Amanda turned, following the Admiral's gaze, and saw a dark-haired Human male sitting at the back of the auditorium, casually making notes on a PADD. He wore the uniform of a commissioned officer, and the angle he was sitting at prevented Amanda from seeing the rank insignia on the collar, but she guessed he could not be any older than his late twenties, maybe just a Lieutenant taking the opportunity of the class as a refresher. Putting him from her mind, Amanda turned back to face Cooper.
"It's a trick question, because most Cardassian tech features anti-tamper charges," she explained. "Any idiot should know that."
"Thankyou, Miss Palmer," Cooper replied. "That is quite correct, almost
Cardassian devices contain some manner of anti-tamper charge, be it munitions or just data storage devices. Always consider any found device as a potential explosive. That will be all for today, people, thankyou for your attention."
Filing out of the lecture hall, Amanda did not notice the officer until he spoke to her.
"I hear you like to party," he said quietly, falling into step on her right hand side as she turned down the corridor.
"Yeah, you could say that," Amanda replied, running her gaze over the officer's athletic form, as he checked something on his PADD.
"I have a proposition for you," the officer said as they stepped out into the Academy grounds. "Do you want a real challenge?"
"What did you have in mind, Sir?" Amanda asked slyly. "I don't have any lectures this afternoon, but my roommate has. Did you want to, uh, have some fun and get better acquainted?"
The officer chuckled and his lips quirked in a wry grin.
"I don't think my wife would be too happy about that," he replied lightly, turning so Amanda could see his rank insignia for the first time. She was surprised to see five small gold pips on the collar of his undershirt indicating the rank of Fleet Captain. "I think we need to have a proper chat. Will you join me for a coffee?"
"I doubt your wife will be too happy about that either," Amanda noted. "You could always get her to join us though, I like girls too..."
The officer laughed, before reaching up to tap his comm badge.
," he said. "Two to beam up."
Amanda sat on the couch in Kane's readyroom as he collected a tray with cups and a coffee pot from the replicator. Out of the window, she could see the curvature of the Earth, and despite the unsettled fluttering in her stomach, the sight made her feel content.
"You, uh, you really didn't bring me up here for a threeway, did you, Sir," she said nervously to break the silence as Kane poured the coffee. He shook his head. "I'm in trouble, aren't I."
"You could say that, Miss Palmer," he replied. "I just wanted the chance to talk to you off the record before I have to talk with you officially."
"Wh...why do you have to talk with me?" Amanda asked, stammering as she often did when nervous.
"I've been reading some very unfavorable reports from your lecturers," Kane replied, dropping cubes of sugar into the small cup and stirring it, before picking up a PADD. "Sliding grades, insubbordinate attitude and behavior in lectures, and what can quite frankly only be considered conduct unbecoming an officer while off-duty. I read the reports from your Midshipman assignment aboard the
, and Captain Grayson had nothing but good things to say about you: Exceptional performance in all assigned duties, especially ship operations." he dropped his PADD to the low table, and started to prepare his own drink. "Almost as soon as you returned to Earth, there was a noticeable change in your attitude, and you terminated counselling sessions arranged to discuss the issue. Why did you do that?"
Amanda wrapped her hands around the coffee cup, and stared into the swirling depths.
"Th...they just wanted to hear about how my dad used to get drunk and feel me up before mom kicked him out," Amanda said quietly, all innuendo and bravado gone from her voice, and she suddenly seemed very delicate and small. "I got over that a long time ago, so discussing it wasn't productive, but that's not the problem."
"So what is the problem?" Kane enquired gently, sipping his coffee. "Remember, this is off the record. Do you have a problem at the Academy?"
"Being at the Academy is the problem," Amanda replied with a sigh. "Serving aboard the
was, I can't even put it into words how amazing it was. I was out there, doing it all for real. We made first contact with the J'dai, even going up against a Borg cube and coming out on top. I wasn't just doing it, I was doing it well, and then the year was over, and I had to go back to spending time writing dissertations and attending lectures which aren't teaching me anything I didn't find out in person, and I just feel like I'm treading water till graduation. I'm sorry, Captain, I guess I'm just not fit to wear this uniform."
"There are Admirals at the Academy who would agree with you," Kane said. "Some think you have no place there. Admiral Cooper asked me to sit in on today's lecture and talk to you and see what I thought."
Amanda looked at Kane, tears welling up in her eyes. "Wh... what do you think, Sir?" she asked, her voice almost a whisper. "I... I probably didn't make the best impression by acting like some slutty dabo girl, did I."
"I think I might have a solution for you," he replied. "I don't think that continued attendance at the Academy is going to teach you anything further," he said. "Nor do I think that you need to continue wearing a cadet's uniform. Therefore, I will be entering into my log that with immediate effect, I am making you an Acting Ensign, along with a transfer to the
as my executive assistant. As my assistant, you will have clearances and responsibilities equal to those of an executive officer despite your provisional rank. Are you up for the challenge?"
Amanda's eyes became wide. "Really? Are you serious, Sir?"
"Perfectly," Kane replied. "If Captain Grayson's reports are anything to go by, you are already a fine officer and more than competent for the position. I'm sure that with the right stimulation and focus, you have a stellar career ahead of you. I see no reason to throw that away over some past indiscretions. We all make mistakes, the lesson is to learn from them."
"Thank you, Captain," Amanda said, dropping her cup and shaking Kane's hand profusely. "Thank you for believing in me."
Last edited by marcusdkane; 02-11-2013 at
. Reason: Smoothing the dialogue